Aussie politi­cians com­mit to sav­ing na­tional park

Bil­lion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

CAN­BERRA — Both of Aus­tralia’s ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties have pledged more than $144 mil­lion to breathe new life into Kakadu Na­tional Park.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son vis­ited Jabiru, a fledg­ling town in Kakadu, at short no­tice on Sun­day to an­nounce a $155.9 mil­lion res­cue pack­age for both the town and the park.

Mor­ri­son’s an­nounce­ment came only hours be­fore Bill Shorten, leader of the op­po­si­tion Aus­tralian La­bor Party, ar­rived in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory (also known as NT) to an­nounce his own $158.8 mil­lion pack­age for Kakadu.

Jabiru’s fu­ture has been un­cer­tain since it was an­nounced that the nearby Ranger ura­nium mine would close in 2021 but Mor­ri­son said the ad­di­tional fund­ing would “fu­ture proof” the re­mote town.

“We want to en­sure Kakadu and Jabiru and all the fam­i­lies and jobs they sup­port are set for the fu­ture,” he told re­porters on Sun­day.

“Bet­ter ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture for Kakadu will mean more vis­i­tors and that means more jobs not just for Jabiru, but for the whole ter­ri­tory.”

The NT gov­ern­ment and Gund­jeihmi in July 2018 re­vealed a $321.9 mil­lion plan to trans­form Jabiru into a tourism hub at the heart of the iconic na­tional park. How­ever, the plan was largely de­pen­dent on fed­eral gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Both the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion’s fund­ing pack­ages in­clude ma­jor im­prove­ment to Kakadu’s road net­works, camp­ing grounds and walk­ing paths.

“As a fa­ther, I want my chil­dren to take their chil­dren to this stun­ning piece of our coun­try,” Shorten said.

“I know there’s been a great deal of work done by the NT gov­ern­ment to im­prove tourism in Kakadu and help Jabiru tran­si­tion from min­ing to tourism.”

The num­ber of an­nual vis­i­tors to Kakadu has fallen from ap­prox­i­mately 300,000 in the 1980s to 185,000 per year.

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